A year after leading the Minnesota Twins to the top, Frank Viola has gone to the top himself.
Viola was named winner of the 1988 American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday, receiving 27 of a possible 28 first-place votes and 138 of a possible 140 points in voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America."It's something I always thought I had in me," Viola said during a news conference at Orlando, Fla. "It was just a question of getting it out."
Viola, the first Minnesota Twins player to win the award since Jim Perry in 1970, led the major leagues in victories with a 24-7 record. In 1987, he was the most valuable player of the Twins' seven-game World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
"The World Series, I think, helped build the confidence that might not have been there before," Viola said. "This was something I wanted to prove, not only to everybody else, but to myself. This was an important year."
"It's going to hit me after my playing days are over. This is the most incredible year-plus anyone could even dream of, let alone have happen."
Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics got the other first-place vote and was second with 52 points.
Mark Gubicza of the Kansas City Royals was third with 26 points, Dave Stewart of Oakland had 16, Bruce Hurst of the Boston Red Sox had 12 and his teammate Roger Clemens, the Cy Young winner in 1986 and 1987, had eight.
Viola said there was no reason to be upset that he wasn't a unanimous pick.
"Twenty-seven out of 28, that's not bad, is it?" he said.
Viola had a 2.64 earned-run average this season and 193 strikeouts, ranking third in the AL in each department. Still, he didn't think he was a sure winner.
"The things I've learned on the mound, I took with me into this," he said "By that I mean the things I can't control, I don't worry about. I was able to put the numbers up this year. That was the best I could do. It was up to the voters after that. I knew I had a chance, but I didn't take anything for granted. That's why it's so much more enjoyable now to to receive."
Viola, 15-2 at the break, was the winning pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game. His 20th victory came on Aug. 30 against Texas. It also was the 100th victory of his career.
He won 19 consecutive games in the Metrodome over 25 starts between May 22, 1987, and last July 27. He also won both home starts during the 1987 World Series.
Viola earned a $100,000 bonus for winning the Cy Young award, giving him a $1.6 million income this year.